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EN3511 Special Author Project: The Brontës

Summer Reading List 2017-18

Course Tutor: Betty Jay

The principle aim of this course is to provide an opportunity for close and detailed study of the seven novels that collectively form the Brontë canon. This central focus will be supported by work designed to provide a clearer sense of the cultural, ideological and historical contexts that inform these texts. It will be supplemented by material that will enable students to trace the development of critical work on the Brontës from the emergence of the Brontë myth in the mid-nineteenth-century to more recent feminist and post-colonial readings.

Over the Summer you should set about reading the primary texts and also look at Juliet Barker’s 1994 biography of the sisters.   

First Semester

Week 1: Induction (no teaching).

Week 2:   Cultural and Critical Contexts

  • The Brontë Myth
  • Gaskell, Miller, and Barker

Week 3: ‘The Twelves’: The Juvenilia

  • Scribblemania
  • Siblings and Secrets
  • Conquest

Week 4: Jane Eyre (1847)

  • Romance
  • The Female Bildungsroman
  • The Gothic

Week 5: Jane Eyre (1847)

  • Gender
  • Race and Colonialism
  • Masculinity

Week 6: Criticism

Week 7: Reading Week

Week 8: Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

  • Empire and Masculinity
  • Intertextuality
  • The Madwoman in the Attic

Week 9:  Agnes Grey (1847)

  • Education
  • Place
  • Piety

Week 10: Wuthering Heights (1847)

  • Narrative Spaces
  • Sadomasochism
  • Abjection

Week 11:   Wuthering Heights (1847)

  • Bodies
  • Mourning
  • Genealogies

Week 12: Review 


Second Semester


Week 17:  The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)

  • The Angel in the House
  • The Female Artist
  • Bodies in Flight

Week 18: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)

  • Ways of Telling
  • Engendering Masculinity
  • Maternal Power

Week 19: Criticism

Week 20: Shirley (1849)

  • Nationality/Regionality
  • Labour and Agitation
  • Progress

Week 21: Shirley

  • Gender crossing
  • The maternal
  • Rebellion 

Week 22: Reading Week

Week 23: Villette (1853)

  • Xenophobia
  • Catholicism

Week 24:  Villette (1853)

  • Erotic Epistemologies
  • Gothic Tales
  • Exile 

Week 25:  The Professor (1857)

  • Englishness
  • Masculinity
  • Translation

Week 26: Criticism

Week 27: Essay Writing


Topics for Discussion: the Brontë myth; literary collaborations; ‘the madwoman’ and after; Empire and its Others; the dialectic of power; family and history; education; violence and domesticity; the female artist; disgust and decorum; gothic structures; desire and mastery; literary influence; female fantasy; art and rhetoric. 


Teaching: There will be a two-hour seminar each week. These seminars will run throughout the Autumn and Spring semesters. Each seminar will begin with an introduction to the text and topics for study and include the opportunity for small group-work.


Coursework: Students are required to submit one assessed essay of 2,000-words. This will be due in the first day of the Spring semester and counts for 20% of the final mark.


Assessment: One examined essay of 5,000-6,000 words. This will make up 80% of the assessment. Essay titles will be issued after teaching ends.



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